The Gifts You Give and the Photos You Take

December 21, 2012  •  Leave a Comment

The holidays have a way of highlighting the family and friends who are no longer with us. You can no longer pick up the phone, text messages or share the holiday spirit with them for they are now the spirit you remember.

(This Polaroid was taken shortly after Nina and Patti were diagnosed with cancer. In this photo: Santa, Nina, Patti, Wendy)

   This is a tribute to the loss of two of my dearest girlfriends to ovarian and pancreatic cancer. During the holiday's I miss them even more.

     Meeting Patricia Simmons and Nina Stoltmann changed the road my life was on, for the better. With Patti's help I became a working photojournalist and was able to work at the Detroit News and the Detroit Free Press while attending the College of Creative Studies in Detroit. That experience along with my stay at the Wichita Eagle newspaper shaped my people and photography skills. With her help I thrive in the industry that I know and love.

     Patti was the glue that held our band of eclectic friends together. Her smile would light up the room and her carefree-bohemian attitude were attributes I admired. We traveled and spent many hours together since the time I met her as a teenager. She was the big sister I never had, and her family became my extended family. When I was traversing through some difficult personal trauma's, her family helped smooth out the many bumps in the road. I was given a peaceful sanctuary to escape to.

     As a photographer I know the value of images. Even a bad photo is better than none at all of your loved ones. My family has the added benefit of my skills and talent on creating some beautiful images of them and, even though my kids kiddingly run and hide when I bring out the camera and lights, they do appreciate my photographs. The true honor for me is walking into one of my friends or families homes and seeing my work hanging on their walls.

     A couple of days ago I attended my husband's holiday party and I wore the beautiful winter coat my friend Nina willed to me when she passed. The warmth I feel is more from her kindness than the actual coat. It is a gift I treasure, and I remember her dearly. Her family took me in and nurtured my second passion: the love of sailing. 

     In my possession are a set of blue champaign flutes Patti gave me. When I open up a bottle of bubbly I always reach for those and toast to her memory. In addition, her family gave me a special painting Patti had commissioned in Jamaica shortly after she was diagnosed with cancer. It hangs on my bedroom wall  and the beach scene painted on it reminds me of the hours we spent together sipping coconut drinks on the beaches of Mexico.

     It was an honor to have both Patti and Nina as friends.

     I am thankful to have known them, thankful to have learned and experienced the joy of their lives.

     As the year comes to an end these are some of the family and friends who I miss:

Giovanni Fabio, Antonio Fabio, Mary Ann Fabio, Francesco Caffo, Sybil Tower, Carlos Tower, Jr., Sara Giummi, Frances Simmons, Santi Fabio, Nicola Stracuzzi, Alfredo Scuderi, Giuseppe Lamponi, Maria Fabio, Rosina Fabio, Carmelo Mazzullo, Giuseppa Fabio, and Luigi Scoglio.

    Moral: We are who we are by those who we allow in our lives. It is my goal to surround myself with kind and giving people and I feel that I've accomplished that, for the people who fill my life at truly special and amazing.


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